Interview: Daniel Sloss - A guide to Fife
The young comedian tells us about the environment that inspires his material
About to hit the Fringe for his third full solo show, 20-year-old Daniel Sloss is marching ever onwards to comedy icon status. For now though, he still lives with his mum in East Wemyss, Fife. Brian Donaldson is taken on a stroll round the spots that Sloss (accompanied by frisky family dog, Sooty) holds dearest to his heart
The Beach East Wemyss
I remember when I was about eight, we had a French au pair come to ours for a few years running. This is not in a posh ‘oh we need an assistant’ way, he was a French student trying to learn English and, of all places, he came to Fife. My mum worked for the UN occasionally, and she met him through that and said, ‘Och, come and stay with us’.
So he came over and I fucking hated his guts. He cooked the worst possible food at nine o’clock at night so I was in bed, starving. But every day he took us down to the beach and used to find these huge crabs under the rocks. Actually, maybe they weren’t that big, but I remember holding one in my two hands and chasing my friend Craig around.
Once when I was young, a friend of mine nearly drowned near here, which was one of the most traumatising events of my life. He was ten and we were just running around like twats – this was just before Xbox – and he ran off and this really big wave took him into the water. I was on the beach like a big girl: ‘I dinnae want to get my phone wet’; actually, it wouldn’t have been a phone, it was probably a pager. I was such a posh little prick, I had this pager so my mum could tell me when to come home.
So, yeah, he fell in and got up and got knocked back in. It was awesome. I can’t say that I saved his life, though I have had my life saved before at Leven Swimming Pool. I was in primary six or seven with my friend Kyle; when he was ten he was about 5 ft 9 and I was a midget waiting for a growth spurt. Though now I need another half inch and I’ll be six foot. Anyway, he dared me to swim to the other side when the waves were going but they took me under and Kyle just stepped into the water, walked over to me and picked me up.
We’d come down to the caves on school trips and learn about stuff; Macduff Castle is not far from here. It used to be a lot nicer when I was younger, but there are a lot of neds. A couple of years ago, there was a police-enforced curfew that happened in Methil, Buckhaven, Leven and Kirkcaldy but not here so all the neds would get on a bus and come here. They obviously didn’t want the usual stabby places being so stabby and maybe just spread it about. We used to come here every New Year because we could get wasted and see all the fireworks from Edinburgh.
It’s sad because you used to get really awesome cave paintings in there, like Vikings and Thor and Odin and stuff and right beside it, it would say ‘Alan fingered Debbie here’. You think, wow, wonder how long that goes back? Some fossilised swords and a can of Tennent’s.
But we were pretty rubbish teenagers; we’d come round here and get drunk but make sure we had bin bags to tidy up after us. We are the first proper generation of such shit kids, we are just mostly bastards. It’s so cool to be anti-social? Is it, is it cool to just piss everywhere? I remember getting on a bus and little old ladies moving away from you: I didn’t even want your purse you bitch. I’ve been jumped several times though I’ve never been hit; each time, my mate little Ally is the one who gets hit.
The Den East Wemyss
Oh my god! This used to be a park! I’ve clearly not been here for years. You’d regularly have balls kicked over from the school and we’d slide down the hills to get them back. There was a big tyre swing there, that’s where I asked out my first girlfriend. I don’t remember that hill being there; that’s new. There was the aerial flying fox and some swings in a t-section and you’d injure yourself daily, smacking each other in the face with swings, kicking each other off the tyre swing.
Back in the good old days you used to do that. Now, I imagine that this place is like this because someone fell off a thing and some shit mother said: ‘It’s not a safe place for kids, he came home with a bruise.’ Well I’m sorry, does your six-year-old have a bruised knee? Who’d thought that could happen when you’re a kid? I can understand if a death puts a stop to things, but nowadays it’s because of a grazed knee.
East Wemyss Primary School
My brother Matthew is ten, and Jack has turned eight. Matthew was the horrible one for years, from when he was two. I hated his guts and not in a brotherly kind of ‘oh, I hate him’. No, I just fucking hated him, there was no love underneath the hate, but in the last few months he’s become so nice and just calmed down, and plays Xbox.
You can’t play bulldog or football or tig or any running sports on the playgrounds because it’s concrete and they might fall over. Of course they’ll fall over, that’s what kids do. If he knocks his teeth out, that’s a story that he’ll tell when he’s older. When I was at primary I had a bowl cut and then at high school I had it short and quiffed, and then grew it for ages and one of my female friends said, ‘You look like a dick,’ and cut it to the length it is now when I was 15 or 16. I had it at this length when Justin Bieber was a foetus; if anyone tells me I have Justin Bieber’s hair, well no, he has my hair.
Skate Park, Leven
We’d get the bus to come out here to high school, took about an hour. It was where I made most of my friends, because you had an hour of practising conversation before you got to school, whereas I had mates who lived across the road and they’d go in half-awake and be fucked. Up until fifth year I was a bit of a nerd, didn’t go out and concentrated on my exams but in sixth year I started to panic – but then thought, you know what, life will work itself out.
Something teachers don’t tell you is that even if you pass those exams, you may not get from life what you wanted. I just stopped worrying and caring about it and started swearing at teachers a lot. ‘Stop swearing.’ ‘Really? But we both know it doesn’t upset you and it will take extra effort from me not to swear, so if you really want me to concentrate on this essay, let me call it a dick.’
I don’t skate, we just came here to watch other people do it. I think I tried to go down a ramp on a skateboard once and split my head open. There was literally nothing to do in Leven, which is why we hung out here and moaned about being bored together.
Adam Smith Theatre Kirkcaldy
So, this is where I started acting, at the age of ten. Here I learned that stand-up was what I wanted to do. My first part was in The Pajama Game; I was an extra because I can’t sing, but I did a bunch of summer groups and weekly ones for about seven years. So eventually me and my mate were given the main parts; we were never that good, just confident and we’d always just fuck it up and never learn the lines properly and make each other laugh. The audience loved it but the teacher hated it – but I realised that it was the attention I liked.
We used to run a comedy club here, started two years ago and ran for about eight months; this was before my first Edinburgh Festival so I could learn how to talk to audiences, but we had to stop it because even though I never went in it to make money, eventually I was having to pay the comics so that was that. The first show had Kevin Bridges on two days before he did McIntyre. Laughter is the most addictive drug in the world – if I don’t gig for two weeks, I get really snippy and bitchy.
Daniel Sloss: The Joker, Assembly George Square, 623 3030, 6–29 Aug (not 16), 7.35pm, £11.50–£13.50 (£10–£11).